If there is one phrase that describes child loss it’s this: Utter destruction.
When that deputy showed up at my door and the words he spoke sank into my brain, my world imploded and exploded at the same time.
There was nothing left that made sense except the hands of the two children who happened to be home that night.
I held on for all I was worth because I was certain if I let go I’d float away into nothingness like an astronaut whose spacesuit tether is cut in two.
Living this side of 2000 plus years of Christianity, it’s easy to forget that Paul probably felt much the same way when the religion he had embraced, had vigorously defended (to the point of putting “heretics” to death) and had trusted to frame his life and understanding of the world was swept away on the Damascus road.
Not only did he endure three days of blindness, he endured three years in the desert as the Lord helped him connect the dots between what the Scriptures (remember-there was no New Testament yet) said and what He was doing in the world through Jesus, His Son.
Then as he took this Gospel-the Good News- to others, he was subjected to prison, beatings and more. Often he despaired even of life ( 2 Corinthians 1:8).
Yet Paul kept on going. He clung to the promises of God that no matter how much he suffered, the comfort of Christ was enough to help his heart hold onto hope.
All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. 4 He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. 5 For even as His suffering continues to flood over us, through the Anointed we experience the wealth of His comfort just the same. 6 If we are afflicted with such trouble and pain, then know it is so that you might ultimately experience comfort and salvation. If we experience comfort, it is to encourage you so that you can hold up while you endure the same sufferings we all share. 7 Remember that our hope for you stands firm, unshaken and unshakable. That’s because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so you will also share in our comfort.2 Corinthians 1:3-7 VOICE
Paul doesn’t simply receive the comfort God offers and hoard it. He doesn’t pile it up in a corner and keep it to himself. No! He declares that the comfort he receives is meant for sharing!
A pastor friend says, “Your misery is your ministry.”
I think he’s right.
Child loss has been my greatest challenge, my deepest pain and my most profound misery.
But is has also been the very place God has met me with the greatest comfort, the deepest compassion and the most profound revelation of Who He is.
So it is with suffering; it never leaves you the same. You run into the traps of temptation that greet every sufferer and are left with a cruel harvest in your heart and relationships, or you run toward the comforts of grace, which shine most brightly in the darkness of suffering, and reap a harvest of blessing. Yes, you may continue to suffer, or its effects may remain, but you now live with a changed heart, a sturdier faith, and a joy that suffering cannot take away.Paul David Tripp, Suffering
The comfort I have received is now mine to give to others.
In spite of everything I’ve endured, my hope remains unshaken and unshakeable.
- What specific comfort have you received that you could share with others?
- Is God placing people in your path who need that comfort?
- How might you do that? Where can you share your story?
- If you are already sharing, do you edit yourself so that the hard places don’t seem so hard? Why or why not?
- Are you afraid to share the darkness you felt/feel because you think it undermines God’s reputation?
Father God, open the eyes of my heart so that even in the darkest place, the most desolate path, I see Your light and feel Your Presence.
You don’t ask me to deny pain or to pretend that things are “just fine” when they aren’t. You only ask that I bring all my broken bits and heartache to You. When I choose to do that, You are faithful to minister love, grace, mercy and comfort to my spirit and renew my strength.
Help me hold onto hope. Help me to lean into love. Teach me to trust Your truth even when it’s hard.
Take my life and turn it into a testimony of Your faithfulness. Make my misery a ministry to others. Give me beauty for ashes.